Bank of America’s WikiLeaks Defense Fail

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On Sunday, the New York Times reported on Bank of America’s master plan for blunting the damage from an anticipated WikiLeaks release of top executives’ emails. The bank’s strategy includes outside consultants, massive document reviews, and what the Huffington Post characterized as a “counterespionage” team. What the Times doesn’t mention (although it was reported last month) is that Bank of America’s defense also includes an effort to make sure no one on the internet makes fun of the bank’s head honchos. How is Bank of America going to inure itself to the cutting jabs of internet flamethrowers? Well, just read:

According to Domain Name Wire, the US bank has been aggressively registering domain names including its board of Directors’ and senior executives’ names followed by “sucks” and “blows”.

For example, the company registered a number of domains for CEO Brian Moynihan: BrianMoynihanBlows.com, BrianMoynihanSucks.com, BrianTMoynihanBlows.com, and BrianTMoynihanSucks.com.

The wire report counted hundreds of such domain name registrations on 17 December alone. They were acquired through an intermediary that frequently registers domain names on behalf of large companies, says the report.

I’m surprised this story hasn’t received more attention outside of the financial media. Even Bank of America, a company that regularly gets hustled by the smarter, cooler kids on Wall Street, shouldn’t be dumb enough to waste its money like this. Are they serious right now? Does BofA really think the internet isn’t going to be able to come up with a way to flame them? All you need for a meme-y attack webpage is a scurrilous allegation and a prominent person’s name. You could, for example, register brianmoynihankillspuppies.com for just $11.99/year.

It is almost certainly impossible to use a domain-name acquisition strategy to prevent criticism of your company or its employees. Yet the Wall Street Journal counts at least 439 BrianMoynihanSucks-style registrations in December alone. If I owned stock in Bank of America, this would not give me confidence that the bank is prepared for whatever Julian Assange is planning to throw at it. Seriously, folks?

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Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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